Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition Winner is Pooja Shah

High School Junior’s Green Algae Research Scores Top Prize!

Pooja Shah, a junior at Melbourne’s West Shore Jr./Sr. High School was named the grand prize winner in Orlando Science Center’s Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition. The awards ceremony was held on Sunday, April 28 at the historic Dubsdread Ballroom near Orlando Science Center.

 

For over 20 years, Dr. Nelson Ying — a local scientist, entrepreneur and philanthropist — has partnered with Orlando Science Center to celebrate the exemplary achievements of our community’s young scientists.  Shah’s research project on green algae was rewarded with a $5,000 scholarship, a $1,000 award for her science teacher and an additional $1,000 for her school.

 

To compete in the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition, each entrant must perform a research project that ultimately benefits humanity by solving a world problem. Projects are presented to a distinguished panel of judges including current and retired engineers, scientists, educators, and Dr. Ying himself.

Pooja Shah, Grand Prize winner of the 2019 Dr. Ying Science Competition

 

Shah’s research project created a quorum sensing model in green algae, which can lead to a better understanding of these organisms. Ultimately, her findings could help researchers to develop solutions to algae blooms, coral reef disease and threats to human health.

She has been researching in a plant physiology lab at Florida Institute of Technology since her freshman year. In addition to science, her interests include playing the violin, running cross country and playing basketball. Shah also coaches a special needs basketball team and hopes to combine her love of science research with her passion for helping others with a career in the medical field after college.

First Runner Up

Her fellow finalists were also recognized with prizes. First runner up honors were shared by Kyle Bramblett, a junior at Titusville High School, and Kishen Mitra, also a junior at West Shore. Both reserved $1500 scholarships for their research. Bramblett designed an artificial structure that would have significant effects on increasing the average oyster growth rate and improving the calcium and carbonate levels in water near these structures while Mintra is devoted to developing an organ-on-a-chip system as a risk prediction tool for assessing damage during radiation therapy on patients.

Kyle Bramblett, First Runner Up of the 2019 Dr. Ying Science Competition
Kyle Bramblett, First Runner Up of the 2019 Dr. Ying Science Competition
Kishen Mitra, First Runner Up of Dr. Ying Science Competition
Kishen Mitra, First Runner Up of the 2019 Dr. Ying Science Competition

Second Runner Up 

Second Runner up was a tie between Alex Carnes, a junior at Lake Highland Preparatory School in Orlando, and Laboni Santra, a sophomore at Oviedo High School. Carnes created an application that would allow parents to non-intrusively monitor their child’s social media accounts for cyberbullying while Santra designed and fabricated microneedle patches for delivery of therapeutics directly to phloem tissue, which combats citrus greening – a bacterial threat to Florida’s nine billion dollar citrus industry.

Alex Carnes, Second Runner Up of the Dr. Ying Science Competition
Alex Carnes, Second Runner Up of the Dr. Ying Science Competition
Laboni Santra, Second Runner Up of the Dr. Ying Science Competition
Laboni Santra, Second Runner Up of the Dr. Ying Science Competition

Dr. Nelson Ying is a longtime supporter of Orlando Science Center. In 1997, after sponsoring numerous exhibits and serving on the board, he decided to try something new.  He wanted to support the Science Center’s mission to inspire science learning for life while also creating an opportunity to inspire and encourage exceptional science achievement among young people.

 

He and Fred Curtis, another long-time Science Center volunteer and donor, started the Dr. Ying Science Competition in 1998. Ying hopes to inspire young people to become good role models and successful world-changers by leveraging their passion for science. Dr. Ying’s son, Nelson Jr., now oversees the competition with Ying and Curtis in collaboration with Orlando Science Center.

Science Stars Compete for Top Prize

Since 1999, Dr. Nelson Ying — local scientist, entrepreneur and philanthropist — has partnered with Orlando Science Center to celebrate the exemplary achievements of local science students through the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition. Beginning April 26 and ending with a finalist luncheon on April 28, high school students from across Central Florida will present their groundbreaking scientific research that has the potential to solve some of humanity’s most pressing issues.

 

To compete in the Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition, each entrant must perform a research project that has the ultimate goal of benefiting humanity. Projects are presented to a distinguished panel of judges including current and retired engineers, scientists, educators, and Dr. Ying himself.

 

This science competition has been a part of Orlando Science Center for 21 years, and along with Dr. Ying, is thrilled to be able give these future innovators a platform to showcase their talents. The winner of the competition will receive $5,000 for their hard work, $1,000 for their school and $1,000 for their teacher or mentor. Previous winners have gone on to continue their research at top universities and even work at NASA.

 

From cyberbullying solutions, to saving Florida’s nine-billion dollar citrus industry, these are the finalists of the 2019 Dr. Nelson Ying Science Competition

 

Kyle Bramblett_2019 Ying Finalist
Kyle Bramblett, 2019 Ying Finalist

Kyle Bramblett

 

Kyle Bramblett is a junior at Titusville High School. His passion for swimming, fishing and kayaking has inspired him to dedicate his life to saving marine ecosystems through environmental engineering. Kyle will be presenting his groundbreaking research on designing an artificial structure to house a calcite media that dissolves over an extended period of time. Scientists can use this design to increase oyster populations and improve calcium and carbonate levels in the water.

 

Laboni Santra_2019 Ying Finalist
Laboni Santra, 2019 Ying Finalist

Laboni Santra

 

Laboni Santra, a sophomore at Oviedo High School, has been dedicated to resolving the phloem-restricted bacterial disease of citrus greening since middle school. Her groundbreaking work has led her to success in the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair and a state bid to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She will be presenting the 3D-printed novel microneedle patch she designed to directly deliver therapeutics to phloem to resolve citrus greening.

 

Kishen Mitra_ 2019 Ying Finalist
Kishen Mitra, 2019 Ying Finalist

Kishen Mintra

Kishen Mitra is a junior at West Shore Junior/Senior High School. When he’s not carrying out his duties as founder of his school’s Engineering Club, performing with local orchestras and volunteering at the Space Coast FabLab, Kishen is pursuing his dream to enter the field of cardio-oncology. He will be presenting cutting-edge research on developing an organ-on-a-chip system that works as a risk prediction tool for assessing damage during radiation therapy on patients.

Alex Carnes_ 2019 Ying Finalist
Alex Carnes, 2019 Ying Finalist

Alex Carnes

Alex Carnes has been passionate about STEM since he was a child. After pursuing projects in hydroponics and post-athletic evaluation in middle school, Alex’s love for computer programming and his desire improve the world led him to develop an app to curb cyberbullying and adolescent suicide. He will be showcasing his innovative app that would allow parents to non-intrusively monitor their child's social media accounts for cyberbullying.

 

Pooja Shah, 2019 Ying FInalist
Pooja Shah, 2019 Ying FInalist

Pooja Shah

 

Pooja Shah is a junior at West Shore Junior/Senior High School. In addition to being a part of a plant physiology lab at Florida Institute of Technology, Pooja also plays violin, partakes in track and basketball and coaches a special needs basketball team. She is presenting her innovative quorum sensing model in green algae to help researchers develop solutions to algae blooms, coral reef disease and threats to human health.